Kashmir Indepth

Day 3: Snowfall paralyse life in Kashmir; hundreds of residential houses damaged

Ishtiyaq Ahmad
Srinagar Jan 6 (KINS): The snowfall has thrown life out of gear in Kashmir which has badly hit the normal life here for last three days.
While most of the roads are closed due to accumulation of snow, hundreds of tourists who had come to celebrate New Year in Kashmir are stuck due to suspension of flights at Srinagar’s airport for the last four days and Srinagar-Jammu National Highway also remained closed.
Kashmir received light to moderate snowfall since Sunday which caused damage to hundreds of houses across Kashmir, official said. 
A snow slide killed a woman in North Kashmir. Similarly, CRPF personal also died in Srinagar’s Hazratbal area when a shed collapsed due to snowfall on Wednesday.
Director Meteorological Department Kashmir Sonam Lotus predicted improvement in weather from Thursday morning.
“This was the season’s major snowfall but so far Kashmir has received less snowfall than previous years,” Lotus told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).
The public utility services like power, transport have been badly hit by snowfall.
A lady from South Kashmir’s Shopian district delivered a baby on stretcher as she could not reach to hospital due to blockade of the road.
Similarly, scores of areas of Bandipora and Kupwara districts of North Kashmir are cut off with rest of the valley.  People are also facing shortage of goods. Authorities have also ordered rationing of fuel like petrol, diesel as Srinagar-Jammu National Highway is closed.
People have been facing abrupt power cuts while roads are waterlogged or under snow.
Locals termed the assurances given by the government regarding the early restoration of electricity as “baseless”. “People have been suffering terribly due to the absence of electricity. Roads have not been cleared yet,” Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Shopian said.
Raouf Ahmad, a resident of Bijbehara said the snow has not been cleared from the roads. “We are facing immense difficulties. Electricity has not been restored,” he added,
A senior official said administration was clearing roads from snow and to restore electricity. “We are making estimates about number of houses damaged by snowfall so that affected families are provided relief,” he added. 
The non-clearance of snow has also led to disruption in supplies of commodities like vegetables, milk and other essentials. There was also a thin attendance of employees in government and private offices for last three days as they could not reach to their offices due to accumulation of snow. Very less traffic was plying on the roads.
Doctors Association Kashmir has expressed displeasure towards the administration for not making the roads leading towards hospitals accessible.
President DAK, Dr Suhail Naik said, “It’s forlorn that roads leading to hospitals and health centres are not cleared of snow which makes it difficult for doctors and medical staff to reach to their place of duties.”
While as fights remained suspended at the Srinagar airport due to poor visibility on fourth consecutive day on Wednesday.
Jammu-Srinagar highway, the only surface link connecting Kashmir Valley with the rest of the world, also remained closed due to continuous accumulation of snow at several places.
Hundreds of tourists who had come to Kashmir to celebrate New Year are stuck here.
“We came here on December 27 and had return tickets on January 4. But we are now stuck here as all flight are cancelled for last four days,” said Pooja Kamath, a resident of Ahmedabad.  She and her husband’s flight have now been rescheduled on January 9.
People in Kashmir have opened their doors to accommodate the tourists stranded here due to closure of the Srinagar – Jammu highway and cancellation of flights at Srinagar airport.
The J&K Tourism department along with the travel and hospitality sector issued various helpline numbers and used social media to extend their offer of assisting the stranded travellers. (KINS)

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